Paper wrong to blame landowners | Letter to the Editor

Usually, a good editor takes an objective view and the knowledge they have gained while following an issue for editorials. The Beachcomber has barely covered septic problems this year. The July 1 deadline with the punitive fines made the problem critical and intensified the correspondence to county and state officials. This information was sent to The Loop, The Seattle Times and The Beachcomber. On Wednesday, the Beachcomber was critical of those trying to fix the problem and the victims of the county’s negligence.

Don’t blame the Vashon-Maury Island Community Council. One committee chairman’s frustrated anger at the county elicited an editorial reaction which, with a broad brush, maligned the entire leadership of the VMICC. The Beachcomber shouldn’t shoot the messenger. Saying thank you would be more appropriate.

Finally, there is some success. After months of contacting everyone at the county and state levels, insisting they fulfill their obligation to obtain the federal funds available to loan to home owners, an encouraging email arrived. Ironically, the letter from Dr. Ngosi Oleru, King County Environmental Health Division Director came on Wednesday, the same day as The Beachcomber’s editorial.

Islanders with failing septic systems don’t intentionally “dump raw sewage.” Those who have not responded to the county request, and are now being fined $25 per day, care about Puget Sound.  Probably they don’t have $30,000 available to fix their septic system. Many homes on Vashon’s shores (as well as along the creeks) were built decades ago before restrictions were imposed. These owners are in danger of losing their property while they try to find funding. That is the issue.

Letters may be going out to more homeowners in the future. Let’s hope the county has secured the money. This problem belongs to all Islanders.


— Joan Sells


Editor’s Note: The paper has written six stories about the issue this year. All told, the paper has written a dozen stories, three of which ran on the front page, the most recent one in the July 4 issue.


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